Abbildungen der Seite

any reasonable mind, that the slaves would be speedily overwhelmed, and be either cut to pieces, or reduced to servitude still more galling than they at pretent endure. Now, although all parties in America admit that this would be the result, there are many persons under the impression that in the event of a servile war in the Southern States, the free inhabitants of that section of the Union, could not subdue the insurgents without the co-operation of their non-slave-bolding brethren in the North. This, however, I take to be a mere chimera, without any foundation whatever in fact. The armed militia of the slave-holding States is abundantly strong for all the purposes of self-defence, even considered in a mere physical point of view. True security, it must be remembered, as far as force is considered, does not consist in numbers, but in that compact unity of purpose which cannot exist among slaves; but is maintained at all times amongst the free inhabitants of the South.

“ It is of the highest importance to the peace of those countries, that the truth of the above positions should be felt and acknowledged by the slaves themselves; because there seems every reason to believe, that precisely in proportion to their advancement in kuowledge, so is this conviction strengthened. But as long as they are kept in a state of ignorance, they are perpetually liable to be worked upon by designing men, who instruct them in nothing, but in the extent of their numbers; and whose logic commences with the fallacy that sixty persons are necessarily stronger than six. If, however, these six have confidence in one another, and have arms in their hands, it is perfectly clear that they are superior in power, not to sixty, but to six hundred persons who can place no reliance on one another. As the slaves advance in knowledge, therefore, and learn to understand the true nature of their situation, they will only become more and inore aware of the utter hopelessness of any remedy arising out of violence on their part. When this conviction is once thoroughly impressed upon their minds, they will not only be far less disposed to revolt, at the instigation of agitators, but will be in a better frame of mind to profit by those ameliorations in their condition, to which I have before alluded, as tending to the mutual advantage both of master and slave." Vol, ii.


241-243. To conclude the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Johnson vs. McIntosh,* in relation to Indian titles, settles the law of the subject under consideration. In his able and luminous exposition of that doctrine, the Chief Justice shews that whatever we might think, were it res integra, of the equity and reasonableness of such maxims, it is too late to discuss that question now. The jus gentium has anticipated and precluded it. The uniform practice of the country—the universal concurrence of all nations in the same policy—the rights acquired by individuals and by States in reference to the law, and under expectations excited by it-in short, whatever can and consecrate a conventional principle, has given this power to the

* 10 Wheaton

civilized man over the original possessors of the soil. The outcry raised against the people of Georgia and Alabama on this subject, is of a piece with the cant about slavery. At the end of two centuries, after these wanderers have been remorselessly driven back from every point on the Atlantic shore, until their very names are almost forgotten in the thickly settled countries of the North, those States which have still some of them to get rid of, are taunted and denounced by their more fortunate predecessors in this very course, for acting on their own maxims. . Civil society could not get on a year, if the ravings of such besotted imbecility, were listened to in the conduct of the commonwealth. Every institution, every ordinance of the State might be drawn into question and shaken to its foundations in the same way. Why, for instance, should not the galley-slave come in for his share of this quixotic sensibility? Who gave the majority of a people the right to legislate at their discretion for the minority-and especially to subject their fellow-citizens to ignominious punishments, for indulging themselves in little liberties, which they are pleased to stigmatize and denounce as crimes ? What but necessity, “the tyrant's plea,” can be alleged in favour of capital punishments in any case, and how loudly ought the blood of whole hetacombs of victims to our tyrannical legislation, to cry to heaven against the civilized world for so many solemn judicial massacres, perpetrated under the forms of law, in all ages and countries! We really wonder that no vows have been offered up in the temples of this new “Goddess of Reason”-that no crusade has been preached up by these revolutionary zealots, for the delivery of thieves and footpads—that judges have not been denounced as suborners of assassination—that juries, in all parts of Christendom, have been found so lost to all sense of humanity and religion, as to find verdicts of “guilty” upon such barbarous indictments, and that no writ of attaint has ever been sued out against them! Above all, what shall we say of war and the whole body of the jus belli, so fully recognized by all mankind, except one sect remarkable for avoiding, most scrupulously, the shedding of their own blood, and for having very little repugnance to do what they know must lead to the shedding of other people's ?

Upon the right of our Southern States, in all good conscience, before God and man, to uphold their hereditary institutions, we have not the shadow of a doubt, in any view of the question. Of their duty to do so, against any foreign interference, we have still less. They are called upon to maintain them by everything which can bind a man to his ancestors and to his posterityVOL. IV.NO. 8.


by everything which makes him feel that he has a country, and that he is bound to stand by her to the death, in all times of peril and difficulty. We take it for granted, that he considers himself as identified with the commonwealth--that he looks upon its safety and glory as the only foundation of his own hopes. Such a man will feel any attempt of foreigners-by which we mean all who are not bound up with us in the destinies of the same body politic—to interfere with this fundamental institution of our land, as the most unjustifiable of outrages, as the most unequivocal declaration of hostility. If those foreigners happen to sustain a very intimate relation to us, and so to lie under peculiar obligations, not only not to disturb our peace, but to defend us in case of need-if they be those who have always gone out to battle with us against our enemies, and partaken in our trials and our trophies—if they be bound to us by the ties of consanguinity, and have established with us a perpetual covenant of union, "to insure domestic tranquillity and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity"-far from acknowledging the right, insanely claimed for them on this very ground, by some inconsiderate persons, to interfere in this peculiar local interest, we should regard any such interference on their part with the most sensitive jealousy, and meet it with the most uncompromising opposition. Instead of shrinking from such a contest, if such a contest should ever be forced upon us, we should go into it with every advantage on our side. We should feel confidence in the righteousness of our own cause.

We should be armed with invincible strength by our just indignation against the mad and atrocious wickedness of our enemies. Appealing to the constitution of our country-to the spirit in which that covenant was formed, and the objects which it was intended to accomplish—to all the recollections which hallowed, and all the hopes that endeared the conception and consummation of that sublime work of peace and brotherly love, we should call heaven and earth to witness that, not upon our heads-pot upon the heads of those whose course had ever been one of self-sacrifice, until necessity made it one of self-defence-but upon those whom no compact could bind, and no argument or intreaty dissuade from a gratuitous and unprincipled interference with what concerned them nothing, but was our whole estate, and life, and being--should rest the guilt and the curse of turning that peace into a sword. But we repeat it, there is as yet no reason to impute such mischievous folly and malignity to the people of the non-slave-holding States in general, whatever a few pestilent jacobins among them may be inclined to say or do; nor is it just to presume against them such dark and diabolical fraud.

If any change, then, is to be made in Southern institutions, it must be brought about exclusively by the people of the States immediately interested in this tremendous question. We have no right, certainly, to quarrel with our neighbours about their own domestic arrangements, however dangerous to us the example of some of them may be. If the people of Maryland or Virginia, of Kentucky or Tennessee, deem it their interest to abolish this fundamental law, we shall, certainly, not declare a war quia timet upon them. But we are sufficiently interested in the subject to conjure them to reflect seriously upon what they are doing—to go about such a portentous revolution with the humility which characterizes true wisdom, in matters so far beyond its utmost compass to control-not with the reckless and profligate audacity of self-conceited quacks administering their poisonous nostrums to a charity patient whom they care not if they kill or cure. We would remind them that in politics, more than in any other department of human thought and knowledge, the results of an experiment are wrapt up in darkness and doubt. Man begins a revolution, but its issnes are with God alone. The maxim of the true statesman is festinu lente. The situation in which we find ourselves was not of our own choosing. When we came to the inheritance, it was subject to this mighty incumbrance, and it would be criminal in us to ruin or waste the estate in order to get rid of the burtben at once. That inheritance we are bound to transmit, as för as possible, unimpaired to those who shall owe us their being. We ought never to despair of the republic as it stands so long as a ray of hope is left us. The counsels of a sage patriotism always take it for granted that the state can be saved without throwing into the sea whatever makes it worth preserving. The task of a Southern politician is full of difficulty. The other parts of this country, with a good judicial system to regulate the transactions of individuals, could get along for some time to come almost without any administrative government. But we must be vigilant, and wary, and provident. We must ask our watchmen continually “what of the night." We must look at the seeds of future events, and the causes which have not yet begun to operate. Time, which is the wisest of all things, and the greatest of innovators, may possibly convince us at a future day, that some changes ought to be made. And we are satisfied that if we do not spoil his work by our presumptuous and precipitate interference, all will yet go well. His changes are slow, and gradual, and fitcontraries are insensibly softened down and blended into one another, not without harmony and beauty-and when it is done, those who only look upon the extent of the mutation, wonder how

it could have stolen upon their unconscious predecessors, with such an inaudible and noiseless foot. But the voluntary revolutions of man have almost always been abrupt, violent, and for the worse ; so that the wisdom of antiquity* laid it down as a maxim, that every fundamental change in a state must needs be bloody and deadly. We do not mean to say that this truth should make us afraid of doing what freemen sometimes owe to their dignity and rights; but we do affirm that even in extreme cases, it ought to inspire us with a deep and awful sense of responsibility.

Before we dismiss this subject entirely, we think it right to correct an egregious mistake of Captain Hall's about the mortality of slaves on rice plantations. We do not dispute his data, but only the inference. In one or two instances, from local or temporary causes, this result may have taken place, but it certainly is not a general one. Some of the most remarkable examples that can be cited of increase by mere propagation, have occurred within our own knowledge upon such estates. We are not aware that any induetion, sufficiently comprehensive to support a general theory upon this subject, has been made by our statists. There are many other minute errors, but we have neither space nor inclination to correct them. Some of them have been done away with, we trust, by our general remarks.

Upon the whole, we shut this book with a very high respect for Captain Hall's talents, although as we began by saying, he is an ultra-tory and full of the prejudices of his party. Considered as a mere literary performance, the work is liable to many objections. It is very clumsily put together, and full of longueurs. There is an odd mixture of prosing philosophical dissertation and gossipping and garrulous egotism ever and anon breaking out, that becomes in the end quite oppressive. Add to this an offensive air of arrogance and self-conceit, and a style of reasoning, though sometimes Socratic enough, (for he is a perfect inquisitor at interrogation) certainly anything but Academical. We do not believe that his Majesty has a more dutiful, devoted and dogmatical subject. We were at first inclined to like his style, which is very free and idiomatic. But although we prefer decidedly that colloquial ease and simplicity, to what is miscalled elegance by more fastidious critics, we must own he carries it to excess, and deals not only in vulgarisms, but in a disagreeable Tom and Jerry slang. His jokes are not unfrequently very serious things. We do not much wonder that our good people did not "take" as readily as our facetious friend could have

* Είσι μεν δηπου πάσαι μεταβολαι πολιτειων θανατηφοροι.

« ZurückWeiter »